Wyoming Liberty Group
By Bradley Harrington
Editor’s note: This is the first of two columns looking at PlanCheyenne.
Published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on March 27, 2014
“The right to life is the source of all rights - and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible.” - Ayn Rand, “Man’s Rights,” 1963 -
As most of us are aware by now, both Cheyenne’s governing body and the Laramie County Commission have signed off on “Plan Cheyenne” (“a community-driven plan that charts our course for the future,” www.plancheyenne.org).
Did you know that the ability of a property owner to use his property in a way the law permits is one of the most fundamental principles of private property rights? This might seem obvious, but if this ability didn’t exist it would make laws and policies about property rights irrelevant. The central principle of the rule of law is that government is bound by fixed rules announced beforehand so that citizens can foresee how government will act, and plan their affairs accordingly. Landowners are at great risk, however, if private citizens or government bureaucrats can change the rules on a case-by-case basis.
One of the important changes that the Laramie County Commission made to the 2014 PlanCheyenne Update before adopting it on Tuesday, March 11, was to strike the section entitled Design Principles for New Development. Unfortunately, that section remains in the version of PlanCheyenne adopted the previous evening by the Cheyenne City Council. The problem? That section includes the most aggressive government power-grab in the Cheyenne Unified Development Code (“UDC”).
Your neighbor may not enjoy looking at the campaign sign on your front lawn, but he has no right to call in the police to make you take it down. This is a matter of settled First Amendment law:
A special respect for individual liberty in the home has long been part of our culture and our law, that principle has special resonance when the government seeks to constrain a person’s ability to speak there.” City of Ladue v. Gilleo, 512 U.S. 43, 58, 114 S. Ct. 2038, 2047, 129 L. Ed. 2d 36 (1994)
The Cheyenne City Council ignored constitutional due process and basic property rights at its October 28 meeting. By denying a property rezoning request conforming to both the comprehensive plan and the zoning designation that applies to the surrounding neighborhood, the Council demonstrated what arbitrary action by a governing body looks like. Both the U.S. Constitution and its Wyoming counterpart forbid government from acting arbitrarily.
Today (Thursday, October 10), private citizens in the greater Cheyenne area have a prime opportunity to engage in the open-minded civil communication with government officials.
Two Open House events are scheduled for individuals or groups to submit “ideas about priority actions for the future.” The first open house event is scheduled from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Laramie County Library. A second community meeting is scheduled in the evening from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Laramie County Community County Training Center Building.